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Wilander: Ever-improving Demon can win Australian Open

Alex de Minaur will become a grand slam champion - and if it doesn't happen in Paris this week, then Australia could be saluting a new king at its own major in Melbourne.

That's the prediction of former world No.1 Mats Wilander, who's joined the chorus of appreciation for the Sydneysider's shock breakthrough run to the quarter-finals at Roland Garros, where he'll be again an outsider to beat Olympic champion Alexander Zverev on Wednesday.

"It's no surprise to me he's in the quarters," Wilander told reporters at Roland Garros, reckoning he sees shades of de Minaur's idol Lleyton Hewitt in the 25-year-old's ability to squeeze every bit of improvement out of himself.

"Alex is unbelievable, his legs are stronger every time I see him. He's a player who improves by the smallest margins, but he's always improving.

"It's said he doesn't have the weapons, but nor did Lleyton Hewitt, and nor did I, honestly.

Wilander
Swedish great Mats Wilander feels Alex de Minaur can win in Melbourne, as he did three times. (Paul Miller/AAP PHOTOS)

"If you don't have the weapons, you've got to have this, this and these," he added, pointing to his heart, head and - ahem - cojones.

"When you have those, you're willing to change your tactics depending on who you're playing, rather than today's model which is 'I'm going to play my own game and not worry about the other person'.

"If you're humble enough to know and understand that you can't out-hit the big hitters - for me, I couldn't out-hit (Boris) Becker or (Ivan) Lendl - then you've gotta do something different. Alex is learning this, it looks like to me.

"He's unbelievable. Talk about (the Spanish clay-court grinder) David Ferrer getting the most out of his game, well you have to say Alex is getting the most out of his.

"But I still think there's more to come because he's so fast - and if he learns to be fast at the right time on the right ball, there's even more improvement. Lleyton did that at times too."

If pushed, Wilander said he would go for Australian Open winner Jannik Sinner and Wimbledon champ Carlos Alcaraz, as his outstanding Roland Garros picks.

But down the line, the three-time French and Australian Open champion is confident de Minaur will have his moment in the sun - most likely at his home slam.

"There's not really a limit for Alex in a way, because for him, knowledge of his opponent and knowledge of his own limitations will make him a better tactician, just like it was for Lleyton," Wilander said.

Could he win a slam? "Yeah, for sure," said the Swedish great.

"The Australian Open probably because it's the fastest hard court.

"He has to improve his serve, needs to add a little power to his serve. If he does, the courts there suit him already and having the crowd behind him is massively important because it'll make the opponent feel some of that."

Already assured of returning to an equal-career-high No.9 in the world, de Minaur will climb to at least eighth in the rankings with a victory over Zverev and could finish the French Open as high as No.6 if he wins the tournament.